Carlton coach Brett Ratten says the Blues will have plenty of ammunition motivating them next season after bowing out of the finals once again in a single-figure result.
Against Brisbane in the 2009 elimination final Carlton lost by seven points, while last year in Sydney, the Swans edged the Blues by five at ANZ Stadium in another elimination final.
Having made it to the semi-final this time around, Carlton once again bowed out of contention as they fell to West Coast, their brave comeback falling three points short in a thrilling contest at Patersons Stadium.
The Blues appeared down and out in the 21st minute when Mark LeCras extended the Eagles' advantage to a game-high 21 points.
But mistakes from exhausted Eagles' veterans Dean Cox and Darren Glass saw the Blues kick two quick goals in reply before Andrew Walker brought the margin down to just three points late in the match.
However that final goal never came and Ratten was left to lament another season where the Blues were so close but so very, very far.
"I couldn't really ask for too much more out of the players," he said. "I think they gave everything they had."
"Our players have grown enormously this year," he added. "Our contested footy, our tackles and our work rate."
"It is a game of inches, when you consider we had about four goals against that were nearly touched on the line."
"Whether they just had the perfect carry, that's the game, it's a game of inches."
One contest decided by inches occurred in that crucial last minute as Zach Tuohy's snap sailed to the goalsquare where Glass and Walker were contesting for the ball.
Glass appeared to hold Walker who went to ground as Sam Butler rushed the ball through for a two-point margin. But the umpire's whistle never came and West Coast took it down the other end to score another point.
When asked about the incident, Ratten simply looked exasperated and pointedly didn't point the finger at officials.
"You probably said the words," he said meaningfully.
"I don't even have to say it. Anyway, you can't do it (criticise umpires), it's a game of inches. I won't even comment any further."
Ratten was more expansive when asked about the gamut of emotions he felt in the game's desperate final moments.
"That's football, that's it in a nutshell," he declared.
"The ups, the downs, the highs and lows. And that's what makes it a great game."
"But I can honestly say I'm sick of being on the losing side of a final, especially within, you know, that's two points or three points."
"Five last year against the Swans and seven against Brisbane, I'm not enjoying that type of emotion but that's the reality and we have to face it."
"I think the players have got a fair bit of ammunition over the last three years to (get) this close but yet so far."
"It's something that will keep them driven but we as a club need to assure that we're doing everything at our utmost."
Ratten denied skipper Chris Judd, held to 17 possessions, was carrying an injury.
But in an ironic twist, the coach said the club would try and bring in a key forward, after he watched Josh Kennedy, the man traded for Judd, score three goals in this result.
He also said he was 'extremely confident' of keeping his job and overseeing the list changes that would take place.
"That playing group probably won't play together ever again because we need change to go forward and succeed," he said.
"We've made some real inroads around that top four area but we're still just a little bit short."